Tech Hockey Season Ends With Loss To #1 Boston

Story, photo courtesy of Michigan Tech Athletics

Michigan Tech's 2023-24 hockey season came to an end Friday in the NCAA Providence Regional Semifinal as the No. 20-ranked Huskies fell 6-1 to No. 1 Boston College. The Eagles scored four goals in the third period to break the game open.

"I'm extremely proud of our group. There's some heartbreak in our locker room," Tech coach Joe Shawhan said. "We play for more than just the people in our locker room. We have a huge community behind us and generations of fans who travel to see us play.

"Congratulations to BC. They are a tremendous team. You can see that if you lose your focus a little, it doesn't take them much to pounce on you."

The Huskies got behind only 36 seconds into the game when the nation's leading goal scorer Cutter Gauthier got loose on a breakaway for his 36th of the season. It was the fourth straight game the opposing team scored first—but like the previous three Tech maintained its composure.

Tech was called for a penalty 12:02 into the game and Max Koskipirtti stole the puck in the neutral zone and went in on a breakaway, sniping past the glove of the goaltender to tie the game. The unassisted tally was Koskipirtti's fourth of the season and the second shorthanded goal of the season by the Huskies.

"We knew we could play with them," alternate captain Kyle Kukkonen said. "Shots were relatively even after that first. There was a lot of belief in our locker room and that was the theme for the day. I think we showed that we can compete with those skilled players with our style of hockey."

Ryan Leonard gave BC the lead back with a rebound goal from Jack Malone and Aidan Hreschuk 6:57 into the second.

The Huskies controlled possession in the second period, looking for the equalizer. Tyrone Bronte was hit in front of the BC bench, drawing a penalty that was upgraded to a 5:00 major.

The Eagles were able to kill it off as goaltender Jacob Fowler made 13 saves in the middle frame.

Connor Joyce made it a two-goal game 4:47 into the third when he finished off a backdoor pass from Jack Malone and Eamon Powell.

BC found the back of the net moments later but the officials reversed their call after a shot deflected off a man in stripes and into the net.

Oskar Jellvik scored on a breakaway at 6:24 for a three-goal lead.

BC (32-5-1) added a pair of power-play tallies to round out the scoring. Ryan Leonard found the back of the net at 7:58 and Cutter Gauthier at 11:25.

The Eagles held a 38-24 advantage in shots on goal for the game, including a 17-3 margin in the third period.

Goaltender Blake Pietila made 32 saves in his final game. He now ranks second in school history in career saves (3,365) while holding school records in games played (142), wins (76), and shutouts (24).

Logan Pietila
 skated in his 180th career game Friday for the Huskies to tie the school record with Justin Misiak (2017-22).

After the game, the Huskies saluted their fans and pep band who made the 1,300-mile trip to Providence. The Black and Gold faithful made their presence known throughout the arena and the college hockey world on ESPNU.

"We have a great student fan base and band," Kukkonen said. "It's awesome to have that many people come to support us even after a 20-hour trip. There aren't many games that don't feel like home games for us. The support means a lot to all of us.

"Michigan Tech is a family. I think that's what makes it so special."

Along with fifth-year players Logan and Blake Pietila, seniors Tyrone BronteArvid CaderothRyland MosleyJed PietilaBlais Richartz, and Levi Stauber also played their final game in the Black and Gold.

Tech finished the season 19-15-6 overall. The Huskies won the 57th annual Great Lakes Invitational and the Mason Cup as CCHA Playoff Champions.